Huami Magazine Charleston July/August 2024

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June/July 2024 Volume 2 Issue 9

For Charleston County Sheriff

Charleston - June/July 2024

God’s Promises Have A No Quit Clause

A Letter From The Editor

There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!

There is something that was spoken to me when I was a lot younger. It’s not that I am an old kind of guy; it was a while ago. Let’s leave it there. Anyhow, I was told that anything worth having would require work to obtain it. It was also shared that through the gaining process, I might encounter a few bumps and bruises, and it may even cost me some blood, sweat, and tears. All that I mentioned has been spot on or accurate in my life.

A Letter from the Editor

What if tomorrow didn’t arrive? All of your plans, hopes and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if everything that you decided to put off until tomorrow never happened? There would be no reason to save for a rainy day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired today? What would you do?

My question is, do we really understand the definition of living a happy and fulfilled life? My interpretation of a happy life involves living a life that pleases God; it also involves love, peace, understanding my purpose, and fully grasping God’s promises.

I’ve been told that I often seem like I do too much. Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m a firm believer in knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on me that I couldn’t handle. I sometimes wonder how life would be if I chose to sit idle and accept what it presented to me. I have found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity is a blessing that isn’t afforded to everyone. A challenge to me is an adventure. What is the worst that can happen? If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try I don’t, but instead learn something new about myself. Relinquish your pride and in return acquire life.

The bible’s instructions for pleasing God is to seek Him first and acknowledge Him in all of my ways. So, accepting God as my personal Lord and Savior also means that I allow God’s love to fill my heart. When I say that I love God, it also means that I should love others, such as God loves me, and reflect His love for them. Most importantly, that should happen always.

I understand what my purpose is in life, and I accept it. To be honest, I asked for it, and it would be impossible for me to please God if I refused the assignment. I want to encourage anyone who may be thinking twice about what God has promised them. It’s OK to get tired on life’s journey; we are only human, and God has made provisions for this. It is called rest.

The best advice ever given to me happened when someone told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only hope provided. I have also learned the difference between what God blesses me with and what life can burden me with as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and when to be quiet, because someone may get it confused with being arrogant.

So, when things are not happening the way we think they should, or if it may seem like all hope is lost, dig in a little more, and you may find that things will get better. What other choice do we have? God’s promises have a no quit clause, meaning His word is good, and will never fail. Even more, He doesn’t expect us to either. Keep pushing!

Make you tomorrow happen today, but most importantly make it count. Life is but a whisper and we must put ourselves in a position to hear what it is telling us.

Terry L. Watson Charleston - June/July 2024 4 4 November/December 2014 Want To Advertise? Call (336)340-7844 Editor In Chief Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Writers Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove Photographers Perfect Lenz Photography Shaw Photography Group Still Shots Photography Who Shotya Photography Layout Mykel Media Company Linda Bennett HUAMI MAGAZINE is published quarterly by the Mykel Media Company. Any reproduction of any portion of this publication is prohibited without written permission from the publisher prior to doing so. Mykel Media doesn’t accept responsibility for statements made by individuals featured or advertisers. Comments concerning this publication (336) 340-7844 On The Cover
Photo by Shaw Photography Group
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Jacoby Waters

Learn more about how his organization is shaping the lives of young me. YMOD Inc. Palm Beach, FL


Taja N. Cunningham

The name of her organization is called Girls A.R.E./Boys

C.A.N. Learn more about the programs she developed to her youth in her community. Jackson, MS

12 A Caregivers Story

Caring for a loved one can be a huge responsibilty Learn more about my personal journey of caring for my mother. Browns Summit, NC

Charleston - June/July 2024 5 JUNE/JULY 2024
CONTENTS For Charleston County Sheriff Alan Ali 6 On The Cover Also Featured
Jean’s Angels Katrina Carpenter
18 14
Teresa N. McCurry Super Tee Inspires
29 34
Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Demi Noel Martin Big Beard Cargo Services Nehemiah Isreal

For Charleston County Sheriff

You may ask, who is Alan Ali? Well, for starters, he has many titles. He is a son, brother, husband, and father. Another crucial role that Mr. Alan loves and embraces is that of “The People’s Sheriff.”

Alan Ali is a first-generation American born, a testament to the American dream. His parents, Richard and Ann Daly, made the courageous decision to move to America from the Caribbean, a journey that not only shaped Alan’s values but also ignited his unwavering commitment to his community. “My parents were born in the Caribbean, in a little town called Montserrat. In fact, most of my family are from the Caribbean. Barbados, Antigua, and Jamaica,” he says.

Alan’s parents raised him and his siblings with a solid moral compass that still guides him to this day. “My parents taught me the virtues and values of how to treat people. They told me, ‘Alan, don’t treat people the way they want to be treated… Treat them better.’ In my thirty years in law enforcement, I have always incorporated that teaching.”

Alan Ali’s formative years were spent in the vibrant city of Boston, Massachusetts. Growing up in the Hyde Park neighborhood, he was immersed in the rich tapestry of community life. This upbringing shaped his understanding of local issues and fueled his passion for community service.

He shares, “My parents weren’t public servants. They just served. They served in the church and the community. When we see someone downtrodden or struggling to make it, we all say, ‘That could have been me.’ My parents taught me, ‘That is you! If we are all a part of this human family, that is you.’ That revelation has always stuck with me since childhood. That truth has shaped how I see myself and others. It is a big part of why I worked to treat everyone with respect. Everyone is a part of this human family. Regardless of race, religion, culture, ethnicity, economic background, or sexual orientation, we’re all people. We all want to be loved, appreciated, and valued.”

Alan was an active volunteer in his community as a youth. “Because of the values my parents raised me with, I knew there were things I would and wouldn’t do. As a youth volunteer, I tried to help others like myself avoid the negative influences that were so easy to get caught up in,” Alan explained. “I tried to be a positive model of what we should have been working towards. Mind you, I was a kid myself, but because of what I was taught at home, I recognized the dangers of living in the inner city. I wanted to help the kids in my community by reminding them that they didn’t have to get involved in gangs and drugs or any of the other things that entrap us.”

Alan’s work in his community didn’t go unnoticed. In 1986, he was the first Black person to be awarded the Michael A. Ventresca Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded through UMass Boston to entering freshmen who have demonstrated exceptional concern for others and interest in public service through extracurricular activities and community work. He adds, “I’ve always had a passion for serving others. Serving others is the greatest honor there is. I believe it is not just a purpose but a calling. In fact, there is a quote from Muhammad Ali that says, ‘Service to others is the rent that you pay for having a room here on earth.’”

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As an advocate for community service projects, Alan believes serving the community involves more than fulfilling an immediate need. “Don’t get me wrong. I am all for Toys for Tots, the turkey giveaway, or the back-to-school supply rally. The issue is those are just three days. What about the rest of the year? I believe that is what separates me from the next person. I strongly advocate for helping people succeed 365 days a year.”

Mr. Ali graduated from the University of Boston, Massachusetts, with a degree in political science. He makes clear that he never intended to pursue law enforcement. “I tell people all the time that I absolutely had no intention of going into law enforcement,” Ali explains. What happened was that, in 1989, I started watching a then-popular television show called Cops.” It was from that show, and others like it, that sparked Alan’s passion for law enforcement.

With his calling to servanthood focused in a new direction, Alan set his sights on joining the Boston Police Department. “With all this new zest and zeal, after graduating from the University of Massachusetts, I wanted to work for the Boston Police Department. Unfortunately, at that time, it didn’t matter who you were; it was all about who you knew. Since my name wasn’t McMurphy or McDowell, I wasn’t at the top of the list. On top of that, the list had over two hundred applicants, and there were only about five positions,” Ali explained. “But I wasn’t going to let this stop me. I was passionate, and I knew my purpose. I believed I could make a difference. I just needed to find out how.”

Despite making excellent scores on his police exam, the door of the Boston PD still didn’t swing open for Alan. Then, he received word that the Dallas Police Department was hiring. “I didn’t know a soul in Dallas, Texas. All I had was this driving desire to go into law enforcement. Then I remembered something my parents always said. No means Next Opportunity. So, I flew down to Texas. I stayed the week and went through the battery of tests. When I got to the end, they said, ‘We’ll get back to you.’ I flew back to Boston, and two months later, I got the call telling me I had been hired and when to report,” he says.

You have to meet people where they are. If people only see you when they’ve done something wrong, they will not want to see you. You can’t serve people you don’t know. You won’t know them unless you are intentional about getting to know them.

Armed with his parents’ wisdom and faith in humanity, Alan Ali has served in many communities over the past thirty years to keep the peace.

“You have to meet people where they are,” he explained. “If people only see you when they’ve done something wrong, they will not want to see you. You can’t serve people you don’t know. You won’t know them unless you are intentional about getting to know them. That has been my goal and commitment my entire career. The only way to help people is if they trust you, and you can’t gain their trust without making a genuine connection.”

Ali has retired as a lieutenant from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department. He plans to use the same approach to become the People’s Sheriff in Charleston County.

“My focus and intention are to promote effective crime reduction while simultaneously building public trust within the community I have sworn to serve, protect, and respect. I have always understood my role as a law enforcement officer as more so being a guardian rather than a warrior. Although both aspects are essential, there must be a discernible balance between the two.”

Public safety is my main focus, and to accomplish this goal, it’s imperative that we, as law enforcement, work for and with the community.” Where the situation dictates that law enforcement become warriors, even the force utilized must be reasonable and necessary. But let me be clear: excessive force will not be tolerated regardless of the offender’s provocation. I would emphasize to my deputies that we are law enforcers, not lawbreakers. Some bad actors plague every community, and I seek to protect every lawabiding citizen from such individuals.” Charleston - June/July 2024 8

As guardians, we must move past vague and catchy slogans such as community engagement. The Sheriff’s office must actively engage the community with open and honest conversations. This approach builds legitimacy and fosters trust.” There are four areas the former Lieutenant intends to focus on as the next Sheriff of Charleston County.

“My role as Sheriff is to serve the best interests of the people of Charleston County. To accomplish this, the Sheriff’s Office must focus on four primary areas: crime prevention, community intervention, recruitment and retention, and detention,” Ali shares.

Community continues to be a primary area of focus for Alan. He adds, “Crime prevention and community intervention go hand in hand. As I explained, you need a trusted relationship between the officers and the community to keep the peace. Visit with the elderly woman sitting on her porch, play basketball with the kids in the neighborhood, go to the community stakeholders meeting, and listen to what the people say. Those people don’t want crime in their communities. If they see the officers as trusted allies, maybe Granny will tell you about the unusual activity he noticed in the pink house on the corner. Engaging with the community allows them to help prevent crime in their neighborhoods.”

Ali will focus on a critical area: the shortage of qualified officers. Since the pandemic, there has been an extreme shortage of skilled and qualified workers. Law enforcement has not been spearheaded this aftershock. “We need qualified officers. There is a nationwide shortage of trained police officers. The solution to this will be focused on recruitment and retention. I can’t stress enough how important the retention portion of this effort is,” Ali explains. We need good, seasoned mentors to train and prepare our new recruits. Without our veteran officers, we find ourselves with newly trained officers trying to mentor the recruits because so many seasoned officers are leaving the department. That is not ideal and can become dangerous if not addressed.”

The last yet equally important area Ali plans to focus on is Detention—namely, the Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston County. “The Department of Justice has taken over the Charleston County detention center. They are investigating the county jail because of multiple civil rights violations, death by fentanyl overdose, and suicide. There have been multiple deaths at the detention center because of staffing issues. This goes back to retention. We have lost a lot of good deputies because of poor leadership. The result is an understaffed system. Those who are there are stressed and overworked. It makes for dangerous conditions for both the staff and the inmates,” Ali explains. “This is unacceptable on every level. Because I haven’t worked corrections, I would bring in the experts. I would also promote from within. Not all of the workers there are bad. Some of them are good officers, and I believe if given the opportunity, they would be instrumental in helping to turn things around.” Charleston - June/July 2024 10

Becoming the next Charleston County Sheriff is the next level in the calling that Ali believes he has in his life. From his perspective, he has been training to do it throughout his career. For Ali, serving his community is second nature.

“Over the past several years, I have volunteered to assist with numerous food distribution programs throughout Charleston County. I have worked with the Adopt-A-Community program, encompassing over twenty non-profit community-based organizations dealing with Juvenile Justice, Mental Health, Food disparities, gun violence, child abuse, and literacy programs. Every 1 Voice Matters, Second Chance Resource Center, Representation Matters, Community Resource Center, and Sun Flowers of Hoped,” Ali shares. “When people ask me what projects I would support if elected, I laugh a little. I’ve been working in my community since I was a teenager. I’ve always worked to serve my fellow human beings because we are a family. I won’t continue to serve because I’m elected. I will serve because that is what’s required of me. That requirement won’t change, win or lose.”

As Ali prepared for the June 11th primaries, he was informed that his name would not be on the ballot. He was initially set to run as a Democratic candidate against the current Democratic incumbent for Sheriff, but now Ali will run as a Write-In Candidate.

“On April 5th, 2024, the Democratic party denied my certification to be placed on the June 11th primary ballot. I and countless voters from both ends of the spectrum were outraged. Democracy and the right to vote for your chosen candidate are inalienable rights. As of June 11th, the incumbent, supported by his team, will be the only name on the Democratic ticket the votes will be able to select.”

Encouraged by his supporters, Ali chose to challenge the decision. He sued the Democratic party, but the judge ruled against him. “The date and time of the hearing was set. Then, my lawyer called the morning of the hearing and said the time had been pushed up. My wife and I arrived only a few minutes late but were not allowed to enter. The judge ruled without me being allowed to present my case.”

This was a frustrating blow to Lieutenant Ali, but it wasn’t enough to knock him out of the race.

“As a result, I am running as a Write-In Candidate for the office of Charleston County Sheriff. Because of my decision, party members are questioning my allegiance to the Democratic party. I want to make it clear that my allegiance is to the people of Charleston County. I stand by what I said before the certification. Politics should play no role in public safety. I am beholden to the people, not the politics. When I become Sheriff, I won’t be the Democratic Sheriff or the Republican Sheriff. I will be the people’s Sheriff. I am here to serve all the citizens of Charleston County, not just those whose political ideals align with mine.”

Because of the decision, Alan Ali will be the first black Sheriff in Charleston County history. He will go in as a Write-In Candidate, and the Write-In campaign is for the General election scheduled for November 5th.

“The highest form of leadership is found in service to others, for true greatness is measured by the positive impact on the lives of those we serve.”

Learn More About My Experience of Being A Caregiver For My Mother

CHAPTER THREE: Somethings, Money Can’t Buy

As time began to pass, with my mother and I sharing my home, our daily routines began to take shape. “Good morning, mama,” I would greet her each day. “Good morning,” she would return. In the first few months after her having her stroke, Mom’s words were slightly delayed. As with most stroke patients, Aphasia had set in, and Mama would stutter a little. Sometimes, she couldn’t get the entire word out, but I knew what she meant. Sometimes Mama would put a lot of emphasis on “Good”, and sometimes it would be “Morning”. Because I consider myself to be sort of a comedian, I would agitate her a little when she didn’t say her words correctly. My agitation appeared to have worked because she continued to try. When she got the entire word out, she knew it, and the look on her face said it all. “I did that”. Those moments of achievement made us both happy. It was a small sign of hope that God blessed us to share, but many more would follow.

The evenings are very special to Mama and me. On most days, we may have just finished eating dinner and would watch one of our favorite shows together. It took some getting used to for me to see how Mama responded to watching Fred Sanford and Aunt Esther go at it. I had known my Mama to be quite reserved; now, she wasn’t holding back on her laughs. Mama would let them fly, and I could tell that she truly enjoyed watching television. It appeared to be therapeutic for her, and it allowed me to gather some data to share with her doctor about how attentive she was while watching.

During these TV-watching experiences, I would ask Mama some questions about her past, short and long-distance ones. My hopes were a little deflated as some of the things that mattered most to her, she couldn’t recall. Thank God, her lack of memory wouldn’t last forever.

One thing Mama has always been able to remember is the number of children she has and all of their names. She continues to be able to name us all, from the oldest to the youngest, in chronological order. She loves her children unconditionally. My Mama is the

I decided to share my experience as a full-time caregiver for my mother to consult, console, and inform other families who may be going through a similar situation. As a son, caring for my mother never feels like work; if so, it is a labor of love. Please continue to follow this message, Becoming A Caregiver, in Huami Magazine. I hope that sharing my experience will help others. From one caregiver to the next, God Bless You!


Super Tee Inspires Prophetic Strategist, Visionary Leader

Her testimony is a story of resilience, faith, and transformation.

Teresa S. McCurry of Cleveland, OH, is a dynamic force in the realms of Ministry, Marketplace Leadership, and Personal Development. As a Prophetic Strategist, she combines spiritual insight with strategic thinking to empower individuals for success in both their personal and professional lives. Teresa is also very versatile and wears multiple hats, excelling in diverse fields. Internationally recognized as a Bible Teacher, she imparts wisdom and inspiration to audiences across the globe. Her teachings resonate not only in spiritual circles but also within the business realm, where she serves as a real estate professional with Century 21 Homestar.

In the world of ministry, she is the visionary behind McCurry Ministries International(MMI) and hosts a Bi-annual Vacation event to get away, relax, meditate on God’s word, and enjoy community- fellowship, and solitude all at the same time. She shares, “We showcase bible teachers versed in equipping and empowering the body of Christ. To influence our families, our communities, and the world with the life-changing and transforming exposure to the revelatory word of God.”

MMI assists authors with self-publishing their books. Individually, Teresa has published ten books. Additionally, she serves as the Administrator of New Beginning Fellowship International, fostering a community of believers committed to positive change with three foundational pillars: leadership, ministry, and marketplace.

Driven by a deep sense of compassion and a commitment to making a tangible impact, Teresa is the founder of the Meesha C. Saxton Fund (MCSFUND), which is named after her daughter, who passed away from complications of SCD. This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operates on a volunteer-driven model with a mission to generate unrestricted funds for individuals affected by Sickle Cell Anemia (SCD). Through the MCSFUND, Teresa provides financial support and spearheads initiatives for advocacy, resources, and education, creating a holistic approach to addressing the challenges posed by SCD.

At the helm of Super Tee Inspires, Teresa serves as the CIO, leading with a vision that transcends boundaries. Her literary work has resulted in her being recognized as a best-selling author who has traveled internationally, speaking to leaders around the globe in countries such as China, South Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. She is noted for equipping leaders with relevant tools to enhance leadership mechanisms to lead in love.

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Photos Provided by Teresa S. McCurry

Teresa is not just a leader; she is a personal development trailblazer. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, she guides individuals in unlocking their full potential, equipping them with the tools they need to navigate the challenges of life and achieve their goals.

Teresa S. McCurry is a beacon of inspiration, seamlessly blending her roles as a Prophetic Strategist, Bible Teacher, Real Estate Professional, Philanthropist, and Entrepreneur. Her life’s work is a testament to her commitment to holistic growth, community upliftment, and making a lasting impact on the lives of those she encounters. In 2020, she received an honorary doctorate for Humanitarianism from the Global International Alliance, By the Authority of the International Association of Christian Counselors. She was also recognized as the 2021 winner of the Northeast Ohio Remarkable Woman Award in honor of National Women’s Month. Prophet Tee holds a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Business Administration from Bryant & Stratton College and resides in Northeast Ohio with her loving husband, Apostle Greg McCurry.

Teresa began her business journey at the age of 23 when she opened her first hair salon, R ~ Hair Studio. Then, in 2006, she began coaching others, something that has evolved significantly over the years. “Initially, I started as a Beauty Entrepreneur coach at Inspire Me Inc. There, I provided guidance and support to aspiring beauty professionals. That was around the same time that I published my first book, Runnin’ Things,” she says. “At that point, I was also a salon and spa owner, running “MiMi’s Hair Heaven and Spa,” a business that allowed me to immerse myself deeply in ministry and the beauty industry. Additionally, I worked as an independent contractor for L’Oreal’s professional product division, MIZANI, where I gained invaluable experience and industry insights.” Charleston - June/July 2024 16

In 2016, she published her second book, Running’ Things, the 10th Anniversary edition. She also transitioned into a role as a salon manager for Ulta Beauty and continued to offer business and personal development training. With the arrival of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020, Teresa changed things up a little and renamed her business “Super Tee Inspires.” Under this new banner, her focus included both ministry and marketplace development training, helping leaders navigate their paths in both domains.

Teresa says she loves witnessing the transformation and growth of the people she works with. “I love being the accountability partner, ensuring they stay on track and focused on their goals. I cherish the role of a cheerleader, offering encouragement and celebrating every milestone, no matter how small. Witnessing someone achieve their dreams and knowing that I played a part in their success is what drives my passion for this work.”

Teresa discovered her passion for cosmetology when she was just ten years old. This passion led me to pursue cosmetology in high school and received her license at the age of 17. She married at 25 and gave birth to a daughter at the age of 27. Tragically, her daughter passed away just 14 months after she was born. She divorced at 30 and opened her salon at 32. Things changed when God called her into ministry. “Through all these experiences—the joys and the heartaches, the successes and the challenges—I have grown into a person of deep faith and resilience. My testimony is a testament to the power of perseverance, faith, and the transformative journey of life,” she says.

She advises others who may follow in her footsteps to stay true to their passion. She also encourages others to embrace resilience, value relationships, be open to change, trust in their faith, invest in continuous learning, give back and serve others, and maintain integrity and authenticity. “Following these principles has helped me navigate my path and achieve a sense of fulfillment and purpose. I hope they will also guide and inspire you,” she says.

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Katrina Carpenter

PuttingGod’s LoveInto Action


Katrina Carpenter of Charleston, SC, is known around her community for her genuine love and compassion for serving and helping others. In addition to being a wife and mother of nine, she is the Founder and Executive Director of Jean’s Angels, a community-driven, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the underserved youth, single-parent homes, and nursing homes of Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston Counties. Through mentoring, scholarships, college preparatory workshops, and college campus tours, Jean’s Angels has made a positive difference in the lives of Lowcountry individuals dating back to 2015.

Raised in Cross, South Carolina, Katrina attended elementary and high school in the Low Country and participated in various community programs. “I was raised in a household where education was very important. I was taught to be influential,” she says. After graduating from high school, Katrina obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She later acquired a BS in Business Administration from Limestone College and completed her Master of Business Administration from Strayer University.

Jean’s Angel was developed as a result of what Katrina describes as “A Personal Cause”. “On August 6, 2011, I lay next to my mom, Bobby Jean Smith, as she took her last breath after battling ovarian cancer. A few years later, in 2015, I lost my dad to heart failure. Losing both parents was an unbearable pain that took a toll on my mental and physical health. In 2015, I started Jean’s Angels to aid children whose parents were diagnosed with a terminal illness or who had recently experienced the loss of a parent. In 2020, I lost two brothers, less than a month apart. Before his death, my brother Rufus expressed his desire to help the homeless community, as he had once experienced homelessness. To honor his memory, Jean’s Angels began our homeless outreach program. Over the years, we have grown to become a support system for our community’s youth, senior citizens, and homeless population. We believe that when we stand together, even the smallest actions can make a big difference,” she shares.

Over the years, we have grown to become a support system for our community’s youth, senior citizens, and homeless population.  We believe that when we stand together, even the smallest actions can make a big difference.
Photos Provided by Katrina Carpenter

Katrina admits that she loves bringing a smile to so many people’s faces, as she has dealt with so much loss and hurt and knows firsthand what it means. In nine years, Jean’s Angels has served over 50,000 individuals, provided over 15,000 book bags, 20,100 hot meals, 60,000 toys for Christmas, 511 showers, 233 loads of laundry, and over two million dollars in items for needy families. In 2022, her organization built its first trailer, which houses four washers and dryers. In 2023, they built their second trailer with two standard showers, one ADA shower, a barbershop, a kitchen, and a laundry room. “Our Mobile Trailer was designed by us, and acquired because of the generosity of our donors,” she says. Not finished, at the end of 2023, Jean’s Angel donated a building. Katrina and her team went to work, totally renovating it into the now Jean’s Angels Resource Center.

While there are many things planned for Jean’s Angel, Katrina recalls some advice her mother always told her to never share your plans until they are signed, sealed, and delivered.

Katrina’s message is, “In South Carolina, the 2023 rate of homelessness was 7.5 per 10,000 people. The total state population was 5,373,555, with 4,053 homeless, the 22nd lowest in the nation. However, our 22nd lowest ranking highlights a national problem in America. Our communities are facing a dual crisis that threatens the core of the community: affordability and homelessness. Homelessness, one part of the larger housing affordability problem, is gripping the Charleston region (and many other parts of South Carolina). In 2016, one of former Mayor John Tecklenburg’s first accomplishments was the relocation of homeless people from a tent city encampment under Interstate 26. While that succeeded in humanely removing that blight at a main entrance to the city, it did not create a new framework for tackling the larger homeless problem. Jean’s Angels is ready to continue our outreach work and work toward a village mentality of participating in the creation of a hub for services. It is important for local nonprofits and governments to deal humanely and effectively with those lacking a place to live, work, and have basic services. We are working through outreach and other innovative initiatives to provide immediate bridge housing (short-term hotel/motel stays) coupled with comprehensive wraparound services to address many of the major underlying issues that contribute to the compounding problems persons who are unhoused face - food insecurity, joblessness or job assistance needs, mental health support and other service.”


Additionally, Jean’s Angel provides whole-person services such as meals or snacks, personal care, and hygiene products. They also provide Community Outreach and School Support Services to Homeless Children. “We currently serve 610 school-age children in the tri-county area, providing backpacks filled with school supplies and ongoing weekly personal care/hygiene items, food, and snacks. We have also become more aware of special needs children. We currently provide weighted blankets for those in need and consider on a case-by-case basis the needs of the medically fragile and/or physically disabled child or youth. Since 2016, Jean’s Angels has distributed toys to underprivileged children. In 2022, our organization provided 5,000 toys to local children,” she says.

Their Angel Support program works with children/teens experiencing catastrophic life changes by providing a spectrum of services from adult mentors to make-a-wish trips to Disney. In 2022, 25 teens were taken to Disneyland and some also visited local colleges and attended the self-esteem and readiness for graduating high school conference. The Bobby Jean Smith Scholarship Fund annually awards $500. The Rufus Smith Scholarship awards a $500 scholarship to a high school senior from Baptist Hill High School. Katrina says her team hopes to purchase and staff a third Hygiene/ Bunk and Other Outreach Services trailer that will provide sleeping space for up to 24 individuals. With the support of her community, Katrina shares that Jean’s Angels will continue to provide various needed outreach services to vulnerable, marginalized, and unhoused populations residing within the Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston County communities.


Jacoby Waters Young Men of Distinction

In West Palm Beach, FL, the relevance of the adage “Reach One-Teach One” is on full display. In many communities across the country, the mere survival of black men has become precarious. Without a definite plan of action in place, these communities are left to find solutions that will continue the promise of a future for black men. This is where Jacoby Waters and his organization, Young Men of Distinction, come into play.

The Young Men of Distinction is a holistic mentoring program that addresses the social, emotional, and cultural needs of children ages 7-18. Members are trained and certified to become mentors, advocates, and role models for the youth within their communities. Members forge relationships that positively impact the youth through chapter-operated one-on-one and group mentoring efforts. Additionally, the program focuses on building essential skills needed to become productive, contributing citizens.

Led by Jacoby Waters as the Founder, CEO, and Executive Director, Young Men of Distinction began on May 3, 2019, with six young men. Today, in addition to the oneon-one mentoring, the program employs techniques developed using S.M.A.R.T. goals and utilizes the following mentoring relationship models: Group Mentoring, Tag Team Mentoring, and Peer to Peer Mentoring. “Our mission is to increase opportunities for adolescent boys to prosper through mentorship, motivation and guidance, helping them transition into

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Photos Provided by Jacoby Waters

young men with purpose and obtain a higher education,” Jacoby says. “Our vision is to create a mentoring culture where all male members of the community can be empowered, enabling young men to become better fathers, community leaders, husbands, students, employees, entrepreneurs, business owners, friends, and more.”

Jacoby is a native of Riviera Beach, FL. He is a father, son, brother, mentor, husband, and alumnus of Florida A&M University. He shares that his stepfather and grandfather provided him with knowledge and expertise, which aided in creating a strong foundation in his life. Jacoby also received great guidance from neighbors who helped to develop his morals and values. With a strong foundation and great guidance, Jacoby has achieved several goals and continues his journey toward his dream.

The Board of Directors for YMOD includes Santarvis Brown, Ed.D, J.D. (Leadership and Education Strategist), Lynn Cheramie (Cyber Security and IT Professional), Corrien ElmoreStratton (Executive Youth Development & Community Engagement Leader), JONATHAN GARY, SR. (Investor Business Owner & Author), and Patrick Richardson, BA, MPA (Business Development Manager).

The staff of YMOD are SONIA GILBERT (Executive Director), SOLOMON FLEMING (Junior Staff), and TYRELL WARRING (Junior Staff). Stephen Brooks serves as Web Developer & Tech Support.

What Jacoby says he loves most about what he does is mentoring young men and providing them with guidance and insight. Some of the challenges faced by YMOD include funding and staff support. Jacoby has overcome these challenges by continuing his efforts and securing funding through fundraising and other grants. Jacoby shares he is inspired by the foundation he was blessed with. Additionally, he draws inspiration from his four sons and the generation behind him, aiming to provide hope and fuel their imagination.

Jacoby advises someone who may follow in his footsteps to always stay strong and stay prayed up. To learn more about YMOD, please visit their website. Charleston - June/July 2024 26
Our vision is to create a mentoring culture where all male members of the community can be empowered, enabling young men to become better fathers, community leaders, husbands, students, employees, entrepreneurs, business owners, friends, and more. 5725 Corporate Way, Suite 202 West Palm Beach, FL 33407 NORTH CAMPUS SOUTH CAMPUS JOHN I. LEONARD HIGH SCHOOL 225 NW
4701 10th
12th Ave, Boynton Beach, FL 33435
Ave N, Greenacres, FL 33463
Demi Noel Martin The daughter of Danny J. Martin and Jasmine Richardson
Charleston - June/July 2024

Taja N. Cunningham is not one to sit on the sidelines and just let things happen. In 2017, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana native and current Gautier, MS, resident became aware that students performed well under certain conditions, such as, but not limited to, one-on-one field trips, expert advice, and real-world experiences. She also noticed limited opportunities, and students lacked the motivation and support to go beyond their communities. Taja says the decision was made to poll a select group of students and ask what they would like to see happen in their prospective neighborhoods. Several students responded and shared that there was little to do in their communities and assumed their options were limited. As a result, Taja met with the school administration and inquired about starting an after-school program. With the administration’s approval, Girls A.R.E./B.O.Y.S. Can was launched, and since 2017, it has steadily grown and gained recognition for its impact on youth development. In December 2020, the organization achieved 501(c)3 non-profit status, solidifying its commitment to the community.

Girls ARE & Boys CAN offer a diverse range of services and programs tailored to empower youth, cultivate leadership skills, and create a safe and supportive environment for growth and collaboration. These programs aim to address the unique needs of at-risk youth and inspire them to become ambitious, resilient, and noble individuals. Their comprehensive approach ensures that each participant receives the necessary tools and resources to flourish academically, socially, and personally.

Girls A.R.E. & Boys C.A.N. Ambitious Resilient Empowered Courageous Ardent Noble

One key area of focus for the program is Leadership Training Workshops. Taja says, “Our leadership training program equips youth with essential skills to become confident and effective leaders. Through workshops, interactive sessions, and mentorship, participants develop critical thinking, decision making, communication, and problem-solving abilities.” Another area is Educational Support and Tutoring. The support is designed to improve


academic performance and enhance job-related skills. Tutoring, study groups, and access to educational resources help youth overcome academic challenges and reach their full potential. Additionally, there is Safe Space Creation, Community Engagement Initiatives, Empowering Speaker Events, Field Trips and Experiential Learning, Personal Development Workshops, Mentorship Programs, and College and Career Readiness, where they offer college and career readiness programs that prepare youth for postsecondary education and career opportunities. This includes assistance with college applications, resume writing, interview skills, and exposure to vocational training options.

Another area of focus is Arts and Expression programs, such as creative writing, visual arts, and performing arts workshops. These provide youth with creative outlets to express themselves and build self-expression skills. There are also Health and Wellness Initiatives in which the program promotes holistic well-being by organizing health and wellness programs that focus on physical fitness, mental health, and healthy lifestyle choices. “The combination of these services and programs fosters an inclusive and nurturing environment that empowers youth to become ambitious, resilient, empowered, courageous, and noble individuals. By participating in these initiatives, youth gain the tools and inspiration needed to transcend limitations, positively influence their communities, and embrace a brighter future full of opportunities,” says Taja.

In addition to teaching middle school full-time as a science educator, Taja serves as the Director of her organization. She has earned her B.S. in Microbiology, Master’s in Business Administration, and Master’s of Educational Leadership. Taja is also married to Douglas Cunningham, an Engineer, and is the mother of one son, Ezra.

Being able to successfully secure funds to provide services to youth and families in under-served communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast is quite an accomplishment. Amazingly, her efforts do not stop there. Taja’s interests include juvenile justice policies for at-risk youth; vulnerable, underserved populations, and community and economic development policies for impoverished areas. She spends countless hours assisting with efforts through the development of programs that will encourage positive engagement and behavioral changes, and avidly searches for opportunities to introduce and engage minority youth in both traditional and non-traditional opportunities. Her special interests include Charleston - June/July 2024 32

grant writing at both state and federal levels, researching and analyzing policies that affect populations labeled “at-risk,” mentoring youth in urban and rural populations, developing STEM activities, writing curriculum, reading nonfiction, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

When asked what she loves most about what she does, Taja’s response is very clear. “I love the positive impact that Girls ARE & Boys CAN has had on its members. I understand there is a dire need to strengthen and expand resources for youth and their families.”

Taja shares that her life has been greatly impacted by her 108-year-old great-grandmother, Thelma Louise Caldwell. “She is the epitome of resilience. She is a powerful force and lights up any room that she enters. Hearing about the things that she has witnessed in her lifetime and how she overcame them encourages me to press on and seek solutions for any challenge that I face.” Taja also finds inspiration in witnessing young people challenge themselves daily and finding solutions to adversity. “Our young people have a lot to say if we simply listen.”

Looking ahead, one thing is certain: Taja will be on the frontlines serving members of her community. She also aspires to own a microschool or small incubator program for students who are labeled “at-risk.” To learn more about her program, please visit her website.

Pictured below is Taja’s grandmother, Thelma Louise Caldwell, who is 108 years old.

Big Beard Cargo Services

Photos Provided by Nehemiah

Nehemiah Israel, of Atlanta, GA, is the owner of Big Beard Cargo Services. Established in October 2018, his company provides home delivery services, assembly services (for various products and not just furniture), junk removals, haul-aways, relocations, and in-home moves, of which he assists his clients with moving heavy items in their homes.

At just 38 years old, Nehemiah has always had a business mind. He is originally from Fayetteville, NC, but has called Atlanta home for several years. There, along with his wife, he raises three sons.

Big Beard Cargo Services all started when Nehemiah first moved to Georgia in 2014 with his wife and then only oldest son, who is now 16. He says, “We were able to get a home in Lawrenceville, Georgia, but it was tough being unemployed. On just my third day in Lawrenceville, I got a call from a temporary agency to work with a company called UnderPriced Furniture. Of course, I went. I only knew how to drive forklifts, pallet jacks, and cherry pickers; however, when I was assigned to offload semi-trailers of furniture. I had never lifted heavy stuff like that before outside of my own home, and I remember telling my wife I was going to quit after two weeks. I considered it to be hard labor, but she told me to hang in there, and so I did. Soon, I was hired for a permanent position, and I am so glad that I stayed, as I eventually moved up the ladder and became one of the fastest assembly guys on the line. I was soon presented with the opportunity to become a helper to do home deliveries. This is when I realized my calling. I became one of the top delivery personnel and was featured on the delivery team website to welcome new teams coming into the company. After two years of working with them, I came up with a company name and told myself I could run a delivery service independently and make it way better than what I’d seen out here. So by the fourth year, I stepped out on my own.”

Charleston - June/July 2024 35
I love providing a quality and speedy service like Chick-fil-A, but in the lane I’m in.

Once out on his own, Nehemiah was faced with the reality of entrepreneurship. Things don’t always happen as planned. He made his transaction from a five-dollar Craigslist ad and Facebook posts focused on furniture assembly. He shares that little did he know so many people needed that type of service. Things would eventually take off. Today, his company caters to all types of people: single women, elderly, those who don’t have time to do it themselves, and those who don’t know where to start after seeing all the hardware and confusing instructions.

Big Beard Cargo Services is a one-stop shop, Nehemiah says, and what he loves most about his business is seeing how happy his clients are when they see their finished products. “I love providing a quality and speedy service like Chick-fil-A, but in the lane I’m in.” He also shares that he finds inspiration in his wife for being a constant source of support and encouragement. “My wife believed in me and told me that I could work for myself. She knows that I have never been a quitter and that I always try to find solutions to any problem. Additionally, my family has had the biggest impact on my journey to becoming successful.”

Anyone who might be thinking of starting a business such as Nehemiah’s should be aware of the challenges that come with it. For Nehemiah, he says, the biggest challenge he faced was the startup cost. “It took a year of saving,” he says. “The insurance is so high in the trucking industry. I worked two jobs, in the beginning, to fund the business and provide for my family to allow my wife to become a stay-at-home mom with our now twoyear-old. I wanted her to enjoy her pregnancy and not have to work during that time. It worked, but it was tough on me. I got around many of the costs by renting trucks and establishing corporate accounts with the rental companies to get better pricing. I still continue to lease my trucks, but I was able to get better insurance coverage to go with the business.”

In the future, Nehemiah plans to expand with more business-to-business opportunities. This, he hopes, will provide more employment to hardworking men like himself. “I dream of becoming a contractor for bigger companies to hire thirdparty teams to do everything I learned and love to do. One day I’ll have 100 trucks running under the Big Beard Cargo Services brand and be the biggest service provider in the state of Georgia,” Nehemiah professes. With his grit and ambition, this will happen.

To learn more about Big Beard Cargo Services, please visit their website. Charleston - June/July 2024 36
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